Testing Scrap Steel for Knife Making

Most of history was forged with steel that had no designated number or specified ingredient list. Historical smiths would interpret the quality and properties of steel based solely on careful observation and simple testing procedures. To this day, Japanese swordsmiths work exclusively with unnumbered steel made with charcoal… Continue reading

Inside look at a traditional kaiken mounting

A look inside the carving of a small kaiken tanto mounting (futokoro-gatana) with additional examples from an Edo period tsuka and an even older shirasaya.

The omote is the “public side” of a tanto or sword, the side that faces outwards both when being worn and when on display. The edge faces upwards and the handle is on the left when displaying nihonto. The ura is the “private side” and faces away from the viewer when on display and towards the body when worn.

More on carving a tanto style tsuka.
Classical tanto geometry series archive.

Soulsmithing part 4

Building the fuigo floor at Pierre Nadeau’s workshop. Read more about the project, or watch the whole soulsmithing series. The three major projects during this visit were focused on getting the forge itself ready for use. In this episode, creating a steel frame and wooden floor to support… Continue reading

Soulsmithing part 3

Laying bricks for the swordsmithing forge at Pierre Nadeau’s workshop. Read more about the project, or watch the whole soulsmithing series. The three major projects during this visit were focused on getting the forge itself ready for use. In this episode, insulating and laying bricks for the forge.… Continue reading

Soulsmithing part 2

Fabricating a combined fuigo/blower manifold at Pierre Nadeau’s workshop. Read more about the project, or watch the whole soulsmithing series. The three major projects during this visit were focused on getting the forge itself ready for use. In this episode, fabricating a custom manifold for combined fuigo box… Continue reading

Soulsmithing part 1

I had the honour of being able to observe and assist as Pierre Nadeau of soulsmithing.com works on setting up his new smithy in Canada. The last time I saw Pierre and his wife was when they (and we) were packing to move from Japan in late 2011.… Continue reading

Japan Photo Essay: Antique Nata

This antique nata is in the permanent collection at Soulsmithing and is a lovely example of original handcraft from Japan. This photo essay will reveal some of the beautiful details of this tool for study and appreciation. Nata (屶, “mountain sword”) come in many sizes and shapes, but… Continue reading